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Inside Church Fights

An interview with Speed Leas

Speed Leas may be one of the world's foremost authorities on church conflict, but the first question people usually ask him is not, "What causes churches to fight?" Instead, the starter question is, "Is Speed your real name?"

Yes. Speed's grandfather was named for Joshua Speed, a farmer and acquaintance of Abraham Lincoln. Joshua Speed and Lincoln corresponded regularly, and they argued heatedly in their letters over the divisive issue of their day: slavery. Despite their deep differences, however, their letters display civility and a genuine respect for the other.

Joshua's namesake tries to bring that same spirit into his work as director of consulting for the Alban Institute, a nonprofit research and training group based in Washington, D.C. Each year he consults with dozens of churches experiencing deep conflict and tries to help them clarify the issues, make decisions, and resolve differences.

Speed was thrown into conflict early. After earning ...

May/June
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